The following material (slightly changed in format below) appeared on the Internet web site of the State of Minnesota Attorney General and indicates the aggressive position being taken by the Minnesota Attorney General regarding the assertion of personal jurisdiction. Query how health care-related activities available via the Internet (such as, by way of example, telemedicine) would be addressed in Minnesota relative to state court jurisdiction.

Minnesota Attorney General Warning Regarding the Internet

"Last revised: 3/13/98




The following discussion sets out the legal basis for this conclusion. Minnesota's general criminal jurisdiction statute provides as follows:

A person may be convicted and sentenced under the law of this State if the person:

(1) Commits an offense in whole or in part within this state; or

(2) Being without the state, causes, aids or abets another to commit a crime within the state; or

(3) Being without the state, intentionally causes a result within the state prohibited by the criminal laws of this state.

It is not a defense that the defendant's conduct is also a criminal offense under the laws of another state or of the United States or of another country. Minnesota Statute Section 609.025 (1994).

This statute has been interpreted by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In State v. Rossbach, 288 N.W.2d 714 (Minn. 1980), the defendant appealed his conviction for aggravated assault. The defendant, standing inside the border of an Indian Reservation, had fired a rifle across the boundary line at a person outside the border. The defendant claimed that Minnesota courts did not have jurisdiction because his act took place off of Minnesota lands. Applying Minnesota Statute { 609.025 and the common law, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, holding that the intentional impact within Minnesota land created jurisdiction. Id. at 715-16.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals reached a similar result in State v. Brown, 486 N.W.2d 816 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992). In Brown, the court implicitly found that Minnesota courts had criminal jurisdiction over individuals in Iowa who mailed unlicensed gambling equipment to Minnesota residents. Id. at 817-18.

Minnesota courts have applied similar jurisdictional principles in civil cases. In State v. Red Lake DFL Committee, 303 N.W.2d 54 (Minn. 1981), the Minnesota Supreme Court held that state courts had jurisdiction over a committee of the Red Lake Indian Tribe which had purchased space for political advertisements in a newspaper circulated in the state. At issue was whether the committee had to register under state ethical practices laws.

The committee argued that it had done nothing outside of the reservation, since the transaction with the newspaper took place inside the reservation, and the committee did not assist in the circulation of the newspaper. In holding that the committee was required to register under state ethical practices law, the Supreme Court responded to this argument as follows:

Defendants say nothing they did occurred outside the reservation, but they choose to ignore that what they did caused something to occur beyond the reservation boundaries, namely, the dissemination of a political message, which is the activity here sought to be regulated. Id. at 56 (emphasis added).

The above principles of Minnesota law apply equally to activities on the Internet. Individuals and organizations outside of Minnesota who disseminate information in Minnesota via the Internet and thereby cause a result to occur in Minnesota are subject to state criminal and civil laws.

An Example Of Illegal Activity On The Internet - Gambling

Gambling appears to be an especially prominent aspect of criminal activity on the Internet. There are a number of services outside of Minnesota that offer Minnesota residents the opportunity to place bets on sporting events, purchase lottery tickets, and participate in simulated casino games. These services are illegal in Minnesota.


A lottery is defined as "a plan which provides for the distribution of money, property or other reward or benefit to persons selected by chance from among participants some or all of whom have given a consideration for the chance of being selected." Minnesota Statute Section 609.75, Subdivision 1(a) (1994).

Generally, it is unlawful in Minnesota to sell or transfer a chance to participate in a lottery. Minnesota Statute Section 609.755(2) (1994). It is also unlawful to disseminate information in Minnesota about a lottery, except a lottery conducted by an adjoining state, with intent to encourage participation therein. Minnesota Statute Section 609.755(3). Acts in Minnesota in furtherance of a lottery conducted outside of Minnesota are included, notwithstanding its validity where conducted. Minnesota Statute Section 609.75, Subdivision 1(c) (1994). Violation of these provisions is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or a fine of up to $700, or both. Minnesota Statute Section 609.755 (1994); 609.02, Subdivision 3 (1994). It is a gross misdemeanor under Minnesota law to conduct a lottery. Minnesota Statute Section 609.76, Subdivision 1(3) (1994). A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, or a $3,000 fine, or both. Minnesota Statute Section 609.02, Subdivision 4 (1994).

Sports Bookmaking

Sports bookmaking is defined as "the activity of intentionally receiving, recording or forwarding within any 30-day period more than five bets, or offers to bet, that total more than $2,500 on any one or more sporting events." Minnesota Statute Section 609.75, Subdivision 7 (1994). Engaging in sports bookmaking is a felony, which is punishable by more than one year imprisonment. Minnesota Statutes Sections 609.76, Subdivision 2 (1994); 609.02, Subdivision 2 (1994). Intentionally receiving, recording, or forwarding bets or offers to bet in lesser amounts is a gross misdemeanor. Minnesota Statute Section 609.76, Subdivision 1(7) (1994).

Accomplice Liability

Minnesota's accomplice statute provides that one who intentionally aids, advises, counsels, or conspires with another to commit a crime is equally liable for that crime. Minnesota Statute Section 609.05, Subdivision 1 (1994). Therefore, persons or organizations who knowingly assist Internet gambling organizations in any unlawful activity may themselves be held liable for that unlawful activity. Thus, for example, Internet access providers and credit card companies that continue to provide services to gambling organizations after notice that the activities of the organizations are illegal would be subject to accomplice liability.

In addition to being illegal under Minnesota law, the Internet gambling organizations appear to violate several provisions of the federal law. All of the services appear to violate 18 United States Code Section 1084, which prohibits the foreign or interstate transmission of bets or wagers or information on bets or wagers by use of a wire communication. In as much as the Internet gambling organizations involve lotteries, they would also appear to violate 18 United States Code Section 1301 (prohibiting the "importing or transporting" of lottery tickets; 18 United States Code Section 1302 (prohibiting the mailing of lottery tickets); and 18 United States Code Section 1304 (prohibiting the "broadcasting" of lottery information). Sections 1084 and 1301 provide for felony-level penalties, while Sections 1302 and 1304 provide for misdemeanor penalties.

Placing A Bet Through Internet Gambling Organizations

Minnesota residents should be aware that it is unlawful to make a bet through Internet gambling organizations. Minnesota law makes it a misdemeanor to place a bet unless done pursuant to an exempted, state-regulated activity, such as licensed charitable gambling or the state lottery. Minnesota Statute Sections 609.75, Subdivisions 2 - 3; 609.755(1) (1994). The Internet gambling organizations are not exempted. Therefore, any person in Minnesota who places a bet through one of these organizations is committing a crime.

Minnesota residents should also be aware of forfeiture provisions related to unlawful gambling activity. Minnesota Statute Section 609.762, Subdivision 1 (1994) provides that the following items are subject to forfeiture:

(a) Devices used or intended for use, including those defined in section 349.30, subdivision 2, as a gambling device, except as authorized in sections 349.11 to 349.23 and 349.40;

(b) All moneys, materials, and other property used or intended for use as payment to participate in gambling or a prize or receipt for gambling; and

(c) Books, records, and research products and materials, including formulas, microfilm, tapes, and data used or intended for use in gambling.

A "gambling device" is defined as "a contrivance which for a consideration affords the player an opportunity to obtain something of value, other than free plays, automatically from the machine or otherwise, the award of which is determined principally by chance." Minnesota Statute Section 609.75, Subdivision 4 (1994).

Under this definition of "gambling device", a computer that is used to play a game of chance for something of value would be subject to forfeiture. Gambling is just one example of illegal activity on the Internet. However, the same jurisdictional principles apply with equal force to any illegal activity.

Please direct any inquiries regarding this notice, or report violations of Minnesota law to the Law Enforcement Section, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Suite 1400, NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2131, telephone (612) 296-7575."

The current web site is:


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Last revised: 9/20/98